Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Sports

Strawberry Crest boys basketball faces tough tourney challenge

TAMPA — Results on the court couldn't determine who was best among Strawberry Crest, Sickles and Armwood. So on Wednesday morning the Florida High School Athletic Association utilized the next-best approach.

Coaches for the teams gathered around a bowl with pieces of paper.

No, seriously, that's how the seeding was determined for next week's Class 6A, District 11 boys basketball tournament. And the Chargers didn't get lucky.

Hoping for the top seed and a relatively easy path to the district final, the Chargers instead will be in the No. 2 position for next week's tourney at Leto. Armwood had the fortune of being drawn as the No. 1.

Hawks head coach Jeff Pafunda joined Chargers coach Andre Lewis in person for the blind draw, held at Leto, while Sickles' Renaldo Garcia was on a conference call.

"Jeff didn't say anything, but he had a big smile on his face," Lewis said after the drawing.

At least the Chargers get a first-round bye. Sickles will have to play Leto on Monday, and, presuming the Gryphons win, they will take on Strawberry Crest Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Wednesday winners meet Friday at 7 p.m. for the district title, both teams assured of a playoff spot.

For its semifinal, Armwood gets to face King or Jefferson, both teams with losing records. Meanwhile, the likely Charger opponent (Sickles) was 19-4 entering the week.

"No disrespect to the other teams, but I think our game with Sickles is really the district championship," Lewis said.

Strawberry Crest did defeat the Gryphons 52-47 in mid December, a result that knocked Sickles off its seemed path to the regular-season district title.

Armwood then knocked off Sickles Jan. 11 to create the tie.

The Chargers are playing well of late, taking five in a row to improve to 15-7. They wrap up the regular season tonight at Lennard.

"It's all about the team that's hottest at the time, and right now we're on a pretty hot streak," Lewis said.

• • •

Armwood ran into a hot team Tuesday — Durant.

The Cougars won by 11 and have won three in a row, seven of 10 heading into tonight's contest with Steinbrenner.

Durant (10-11) is the last-place team in the District 8A-7 tournament, but only because of a narrow series of losses. But the Cougars remain hopeful.

Durant opens Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Plant at Bloomingdale, a team that needed a late three-pointer to beat the Cougars 51-49 recently. If the Cougars prevail, they face Alonso, a team they beat in January.

Plant City has home-court advantage for the 7A-8 tourney. The Raiders face a tough Tampa Bay Tech team in opening-round action Tuesday.

The finals are next Friday at 7 p.m..

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